FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

From the abolition of dairy quotas to political leanings the following visualizations lift the lid on Irish farming in contemporary Ireland.

The data sets - which were created by data journalist Robbie Byrne, were presented individually as part of our recent and and extensive coverage of the annual Irish Examiner / ICMSA farming poll.

FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Assisted Suicide:

A contentious issue, our poll data reveals that opinions on assisted suicide revolve around two key influencers: age and religion. Overall, 53% supported the legalisation of assisted suicide under certain circumstances. This figure was reduced to 47% in the 44+ age bracket. However, religion appears to be the stronger influencer, with a 20% difference noted between regular and nonregular mass-goers who are in favour of the law change.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Attitudes Towards Abortion:

Like attitudes towards assisted suicide, age is once again a dominant factor in shaping opinion on abortion. When analysed, the 65+ age group displays the lowest support for a change in the Eighth Amendment, as opposed to under the 34’s, of whom 76% support the alteration. A rural-urban divide is also present, with the most rural survey groups exhibiting the lowest support for an amendment.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Beef Farming:

The bump chart below displays the four measures which beef farmers believe should be implemented in order of popularity and preference. An increase in cattle exports is by far the most popular implementation, followed by an improvement in the expertise of beef farmers, which garnered the majority of second preference votes.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Dairy

The data shows there is clearly varied satisfaction rate across local Co-ops. For example, over half of Charleville’s dairy farmers surveyed strongly agree that they are happy with their Co-op’s performance - as opposed to just 33% in Dungarvan.

Looking towards the future makes for more positive reading, with 84% of dairy farmers surveyed stating that they see themselves working with the same co-op in five years time.

Most intriguing is the number of farmers who would consider a move into dairy farming following an abolition of milk quotas. This defection seems largely dependent on farm size, with 10% of famers of 80-120 acres claiming they would consider the move, as opposed to only 2% of farmers with a 80-120 acre farm.

FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

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The Future of Farming:

Optimism amongst the farmers surveyed is dependent on farming activity, location and size. Dairy farmers are the most optimistic, while livestock farmers are the least. Meanwhile, larger farmers tend to be more optimistic about their future than ‘squeezed’ part-time farmers.

The overall picture is relatively bright, however, with 39% of those surveyed saying that they are likely to buy or rent more land within the next five years - in contrast to the 1% who claim they are likely to sell land.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Attitudes to the Gardaí, Department of Agriculture & The European Union

The number of farmers with full faith in the Gardaí is high, despite recent scandals, with only moderate changes detected across the age groups surveyed.

Satisfaction rates for new schemes launched by the Department for Agriculture, Food & Marine vary widely - from the Basic Payment Scheme, which is almost universally welcomed, to the Knowledge Transfer Scheme, which is largely slated by farmers. A political sway can be seen in how farmers react to governmental and European schemes, where the Fine Gael voters surveyed are the happiest farming segment - 10.5% more satisfied than the average farmer.

As for milk quotas, the largest proportion, 33%, stated that they would make no change to their milk output following an abolition of the EU legislation. Meanwhile, 75% of livestock farmers agree that the Department of Agriculture is too strict in implementing EU legislation.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Farm Safety

Those surveyed welcome increased farm safety measures, with just 11% stating that they have not introduced any work-safety practices in the light of recent farm deaths. Meanwhile, all age groups have implemented safety measures on a consistent level.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

House Repossession.

The poll revealed strong support for those in danger of house repossession was evident from the survey. Three quarters disagreed that banks should have a right to repossess a family home if mortgage repayments were not made in a twelve month period. Unlike other questions posed, this matter revealed the strongest male/ female divide where 9% of women surveyed rejected home repossession in contrast to 15% of men.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Attitudes to migration & the European Union

The farming survey took place before the European Migrant Crisis peaked in early September, nevertheless the survey reveals that farmers remain split over whether Ireland should welcome more migrants.

Opinions on the matter vary widely depending on age and location. Those over 65 offered the highest support for the intake of migrants, while those surveyed from Athenry were the most strongly opposed to the intake. Despite this, EU satisfaction remains high, with 100% of 45-64 year olds in favour of Ireland remaining part of the politico-economic union.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Pre-Nuptial Agreements:

Support for the recognition of pre-nuptial agreements under Irish law is strong, with 75% in support of a change in the law. This support is especially robust across the mid-age groups, with 80% of 45-54 year-olds backing the change.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Politics:

Fine Gael retain their strong support amongst the farming community with 38% of those surveyed stating that they would give their first preference to the centre-right party. A considerable proportion, 23%, remain undecided. Continuing this trend, a Fine-Gael/ Labour coalition remains the most popular of those put forward, followed by Fine Gael/ Fianna Fail.

Concurrently, a substantial 38% of women and 31% of men would not like to see any of today's party leaders as the next Taoiseach. Age is a significant agent in shaping attitudes in relation to a future gay Taoiseach. When asked if Ireland was ready, just 12% of those 65 and over agree, while 60% of those under 34 believe Ireland was ready for such a happening.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Religion

Religion has never been a topic that lends itself easily to data analysis. However, one definite trend can be found within mass attendance demographics. Here, the youngest age group displays the lowest weekly attendance levels - a figure that grows throughout the age groups surveyed, where the oldest demographic displays the highest weekly attendance levels.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Services

The majority of farmers surveyed back the Government’s water charges scheme - the highest of this support can be found in Dungarvan, where 83% of those surveyed had no issue with the programme. In contrast, the quality of broadband in rural Ireland is in need of substantial investment, with only 38% stating that they have ‘satisfactory’ broadband speed in their local area.

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FARMING POLL 2015: Data project lifts lid on Irish farming

Spousal income and debt

A practically identical percentage of males and females have a spouse that earns an income from outside the farm place. When asked if they felt that their level of debt was too high, the two major age groups (-44 and 45+) responded slightly differently, with the older age group generally regarding their debt as less significant than the younger group.

All three farming activities displayed similar levels of debt. In contrast, the geographical spread of debt varied widely, from the Fermoy survey group where 27% believed that their debt was too high, to Athenry, where only 3% felt the same way.

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